No seniors? No problem for Lions softball team
Just looking at the roster of West Linn's softball team this year, it would be easy to assume that the team might be in for a long season. The team has five freshmen in its starting line-up and not a senior to be found.
All of that bodes extremely well for the future of the program that is eyeing a return to the postseason but one might guess that this year's squad should be prepared to take its lumps.
However, the Lions are looking to surprise some people this spring and 'next year' might come a bit early.
The team couldn't have started this year's campaign much better, pounding Grant 11-0. Even with missing two of its starters, everyone in the line-up contributed as the Lions put the Generals away early.
This year West Linn is without a hole in the line-up and has some depth as well giving coach Jamie LeVeque some options from game to game.
Last year the Lions struggled to score runs, losing a number of heartbreaking games. So putting up double digits in the team's first game was a very welcome sign.
'We're really excited. It's only the first game but it was very encouraging,' LeVeque said.
Rhianna Russell got the start for West Linn. The sophomore saw action on the mound last year and was very effective in her first outing, throwing three scoreless innings.
Sophomore Carly Dolder pitched the last three innings for the Lions.
The Lions scored two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by catcher Mckenna Pyeatt, who also threw out two base-runner trying to steal in the game.
The Lions score two more runs in the second inning and then put the game away in the fourth when freshman Kylie Crawford came through with a three-run home run.
Virtually everyone in the line-up came through with a multi-hit game for West Linn. The Lions were missing returning varsity players Sachie Hopkins and Ashley Bruser but their replacements filled in nicely.
'I thought our older kids were going to carry us for a while but it was great to see everyone hit the ball so well. We only struck out twice in the game,' LeVeque said.
The Lions' featured an all-freshman infield in the game with Summer Figone playing first base, Hannah Schmits manning second base, Mackenzie Domann at shortstop and Crawford at third base.
The outfield also featured some new faces with freshman Lauren Pyrch in left field, Hannah Schumaker, who hasn't played softball in a number of years, in centerfield and soccer standout Taylor Brooke out for this year's team in right field.
Brooke is expected to be one of the team's quickest players this season and showcased her athletic ability in the field against Grant.
'She's going to be really good. She really knows what she's doing. There were a pair of line drives hit to her that were slicing and she didn't even flinch,' LeVeque said.
West Linn has a number of speedy girls on the squad this year and LeVeque is looking forward to utilizing that asset.
'It's a good mix. We have four or five kids who run really well and we have some kids who hit for power,' LeVeque said.
The league this year is expected to be very strong as usual with Putnam being the runaway favorite. Last year West Linn took two of three games from the Kingsmen. Oregon City also boasts a solid team along with Clackamas while Lake Oswego, another team with talented freshmen, could compete for a playoff berth as well.
The team opens up league play before Spring Break against Lake Oswego.
'We're going to have to beat some good teams (to make the playoffs,)' LeVeque said.